Archives for category: Process

It has been a couple of months since I have created any pieces. Making Foundlings right now feels almost like a dream. It’s easy to get concerned that I have lost my creative muse. That somehow, I have lost my need to create new works or worse, that I have nothing “new” to say.

I have to remind myself that as an artist, I have created all of my life. From graphic design to my fine art work. From holiday cards to stained glass windows. This is just what I do. It is in my nature. There is also a “season” to creating. There are the “winter months” when my creative spirit seems to be hibernating and then there are the “spring months” when everything seems new and filled with possibilities.

It is easy to think that this process is about how many pieces I create or how well I sell but I think this misses the point. I have a need, or an ability to create. The external measurements like how successful people think my work is or how my work is received by critics is really only secondary. Indeed, even if all I did was work in the isolation of my basement workshop, never doing shows, never selling a piece, never talking to other artists, I would still need to create.

My experiences and my journeys, like going to Burning Man, for example, only gave me a direction to my creativity. Perhaps giving me a more focused insight into the contrasts of life and what my voice is. For this and other journeys I am grateful but I need to remember that being an artist is not measured by a number, or a review. I am not even sure that the measure of an artistic endeavour is based on how satisfied I am by something I have created. It is simply that I create. Sometimes all day, sometimes not in a while,… sometimes not in a long while.

Creating is not like breathing to me. It isn’t essential to my life in a literal way. It is, however, something that grounds me. Something that keeps me aware.

I do miss creating but it will return and I assume with new energy.

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I have been busy updating my website and artist material. Not that they needed to be updated but I am looking to redouble my efforts to pursue galleries, museums and artist opportunities. These are the tasks that take place behind the scenes. Just as it never occurred to me that being a working artist also meant handling shipping, it never occurred to me that this meant writing letters for submissions, looking for artist opportunities and even planning strategically where to apply and what pieces to submit.

I have done Art Expo for five years now and I am thinking that I need to expand. I am not sure that I will be labeled and “Art Expo” artist if I don’t expand my exposure but in growing my artist career, it is clear that I have outgrown showing in libraries and restaurants. This does show growth but it is still all too easy to get frustrated with the slow pace of opportunities and especially with rejection letters.

Never-the-less, I still have the courage of my convictions. I stand by my creations and after 15 years I am proud of what I have created (mostly) and what I have accomplished. The path is still not clear but I am grateful for the advice and help I have received from Marie, David, Kathy Chris and Almitra.

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I have talked about the Brimfield Antique fair before in these writings. It’s a huge event held three times a year in the town of Brimfield, MA. The town has fields and fields of antiques. From beautiful furniture to miscellaneous parts (like this bin filled with old watch faces).

Finding the “ingredients” for my Foundlings involve spending time. Lots of time. I spend time looking for that “perfect piece” but I also spend a lot of time, waiting for when that fragment will find its way into a work. I have had parts in my workshop, sometimes for years. There are other pieces that come back to the studio and they get used right away.

What is true in art is so often true in life. Life is filled with choices and sometimes the results of these decisions happen quickly but at other times, these choices bear fruit  years or even decades later. So I take my time knowing that the decisions I make, will have outcomes that are largely unknown to me at the present time. I never know if these choices will work out but I always take my time. I consider it, time well spent.

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Brad_front_72dpiCYMKThe Art Expo / Solo NY show has come and gone. On the plus side, I sold four pieces. As exhausting as it is to be “on display” for four days, I do get a lot of praise for my work and get to meet a lot of people, including artists. I really do enjoy talking to other artists, whatever their chosen medium is and whatever their skill level. It is so inspiring to meet people who are on a similar path what is basically a solitary pursuit. On the negative side, this is a expensive event, it’s a complicated and crowded location, and did I mention exhausting? I owe so much to Marie as she is the true logistic and strategic “brains” of the operation. I really couldn’t do this without her, and her Excel spreadsheets.

There are so few places for independent artists to show and a major draw of this show is to make connections with gallery owners, art buyers, and other people in the art world, from art magazine publishers to curators. I do hand out plenty of show postcards and business cards and I try to run down every lead but rarely do they materialize. I suspect this is a bit like dating. There are lots of good will and positive intensions out there but finding relationships that “click” are few and far between. Still, in the words of Winston Churchill, “Those who dare, risk defeat. Those who don’t, ensure it.”

So I will keep plugging along and ifI do my best, I will at least have a body of work that I can be proud of.

Oh, and this is Brad. A new piece that sold,… it didn’t stick around very long.

I set up for Art Expo/Solo tomorrow. Like a road race upon seeing the finish line, I usually pick up the pace to sprint to the finish. Likewise, I have picked up the pace to complete as many new pieces as I could for the show. It’s been exhausting but gratifying.

I have this running debate (forgive all of the running references) with myself about the type of pieces I should create. Make what sells, or make what my creative instincts guide me to, whatever the direction. Not that these are completely different directions. I do like to create classically “beautiful” work but I don’t want to merely do “pretty.” You can photograph a flower. The subject is pretty so you get a “pretty image”. Pushing yourself, you can photograph a flower but still have a voice and something unique to say.

“Portal” came together very quickly, just in time for the show. It is pretty and I think it will sell. I am not breaking any creative new ground here but it was a very satisfying process. I will be proud to show it but it always saddens me when new work sells. I always hope they will stick around for a while.

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It’s done. It’s heavy (about 50 lbs.) and it does come apart. I have to unscrew the gold frame part behind the head and I can then remove the bust of Zeus. Then I can unscrew the brass cap nuts, on either side of Zeus and the “shelf” comes off.

Coming apart in three pieces makes this much easier to transport and easier to hang. The best part, it doesn’t look like it comes apart.

I still get concerned about how heavy this is and the fact that being able to come apart does suggest that this could come apart,… when I don’t want it to.

Never-the-less, I am very happy with the piece and I have almost a month to spare before the Art Expo show in New York this April.

We will try hanging my smallest pieces next to this large piece in the hope that the big work makes the smaller ones look smaller and the smaller pieces make the bigger piece look even bigger. Should make for a more dramatic effect. We shall see.

As discussed, this “Broken Zeus” piece is a larger piece. Larger works are very gratifying to build but I have to pay careful attention to the structure as these get pretty heavy very quickly. I also have to give a lot of thought to seeing if I can make these works modular. If
I can construct a Foundling to come apart, it is easier to work on, to hang, and to transport. It came as a rather rude awakening that the first large piece I was working on wasn’t going to fit in the car. If it doesn’t fit in my car, then it means having to get a rental truck any time I want to show the work. So I had to go back and think how I could get the piece to come apart (and easily put back together).

In addition to the mechanical problem of how a piece is going to fit together is the aesthetic problem of making the pieces fit together in such a way that the seams are either hidden or only add to the overall design.

With the help of my dear friend Dave, “Broken Zeus” will not have to come apart but at approximately four feet tall the structure is on the heavy side. I count on Dave to help make these structurally sound. Here, the base that will hold the Zeus head is reinforced with a good, solid piece of wood to hold this all together. Thanks Dave.

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I have a casting of Zeus’ head that I picked up in Athens years ago. It has moved from home to studio to home again, and subsequently broke. I had such wonderful memories sailing the Greek islands with my friends that I hated to part with it.

Then there were the pieces of an organ that I purchased on the premise that if I could take it apart, then and there (and get it into the car), I could purchase it very cheaply. It was badly damaged but had such beautiful carvings on it that I had to have it. I took it apart over two years ago and it has been living in the garage ever since.

These are large items and they need a large scale to get them to live together. So these parts waited as I tend to work in a smaller scale. I woke up recently dreaming of a work with these pieces. It was only a rough idea but I have found that it’s best to follow a vision, when they happen, where ever it leads. It would be nice to have another large piece for my show at Art Expo, New York in April but it will depend on if this was merely a vision or only a dream.

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It has been a while since my last entry. Between the holiday season, my yearly holiday party, the family coming in from the West Coast and my latest show, it’s been a very busy time.

Marie and I packed up 37 pieces and drove for two days to show for four days at the One of a Kind Show in Chicago. I sold two pieces and received lots of praise. It was very gratifying. There were over 600 “vendors” but the show felt more like a gift show with a lot of artists rather then a fine art show. I am not planning to show there again but there were big crowds and it was incredibly well run.

I do wonder if these “retail” shows are a good fit for me and my work. I do like showing my work but does it help me on my path to a museum or with the recognition I seek? So as I ponder the upcoming year, I look forward to what it will bring.

Happy New Year.

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I can see how my work is evolving. The change is subtle but I can see it. Not that it’s easy to explain but there is a kind of harmony to the pieces. They look more contained, more complete. My Foundlings look like they are “meant” to be a certain way. When I have a less successful piece, there is an incomplete quality to them and I have an urge to change them.

That is not to say that everything I create is as successful as it could be, just that I am clearer with what I have been creating. This may have less to do with understanding the process and more to do with an understanding of the goal.

My older work just isn’t as consistently complete as I would like it and yet, this incompleteness has an endearing quality to it. Like an old friend who is irritating at times but is a good friend never-the-less. Their faults seem to me more like personality.PS187_front_72dpiRGB